#9 Steep Turn


To determine that the candidate can perform a level and coordinated steep turn.

In this exercise you will be asked to execute a steep turn through 180°, with an angle of bank of 45°; then, without pause, you will be required to reverse the turn and roll out on the original heading.  You are required specify the selected altitude and initial heading prior to entering the turn, while the examiner will assign the airspeed.

Assessment is based on the candidate’s ability to:

  • maintain an effective lookout;
  • roll into and out of turns, using smooth and coordinated pitch, bank and power control;
  • maintain the specified altitude (±100 feet) and assigned airspeed (±10 knots);
  • maintain the bank angle of 45° (±5°) while in smooth stabilized flight;
  • after 180° of turn, reverse the direction of turn and repeat the maneuver in the opposite direction;
  • roll out of the turn at the reversal heading and the entry heading (±10°); and
  • divide attention appropriately between outside visual references and instrument indications.


This exercise is, of course, a duplication of the steep turn drill in the Commercial Pilot flight test.  Examiners have been known to assign both fast and low speeds, and training will focus on a 90 MPH switchback and the 160 MPH switchback.  The 90 MPH switchback is normally completed with the flaps and gear extended.  In both cases, it is crucial to utilize your sense of body weight to effectively gauge your pitch inputs.  The Seneca will not respond to jerky pitch inputs well, and you must manage you pitch inputs smoothly by smoothly increasing or decreasing your apparent body weight.


Be sure you clear the area for traffic before entering the steep turn.  Before performing a steep turn to the left, for example, you should first look right and then look left before you begin the roll.